Elastic Substitutions for Masks

Elastic Substitutions for Masks

If blog posts had a subtitle (as novels do), this one would have gone up under “Maskmaker, Maskmaker, make me a mask…”, but that might be more of a testament to what I’ve been listening to on my playlist than anything else. In truth, I’ve been working on the ‘mask project’ along with many many people. Who knew that sewists have finally become the Cool Kids…


There are many, many patterns, videos and demonstrations about what kind of mask to make, and how to make them. I’m a firm believer that you should be smart with your donations, determine where you’re going to donate, and then figure out what their specifications are. I did that, and have worked out with my local hospital what kind of masks they wanted, and set to work. I downloaded the pattern, gathered my supplies, made some tea and headed off to the sewing room to begin my process.

And elastic, 1/4″ to be exact was smack in the middle of the instructions. The problem is that with many many people making masks for people, the supply has dried up. Literally…if you can find any, you might easily be waiting several weeks for some.

I will confess that I have received a supply of some, plenty in fact to keep me stocked for quite a while. For a while, I wasn’t sure if that would pan out, and I want to share with you here, in one resource, a couple of alternative ideas for items you probably have in your home. I grouped them all together in the cover shot, but here’s a more detailed breakdown, in no order given.

Extra Binding

A while ago, on my last sewing room organization binge, I had located a bunch of ‘orphan’ quilt binding strips that I had no idea why I had them. Literally, I didn’t even vaguely remember why I had them in my stash – and truthfully, I was a tad bit embarrassed to find so many. I was supposed to look for extra projects – and now is the time. You need about 30 inches or so for each side of the mask, but there’s no saying both sides need to match.

Bias tape maker

I found this item in my sewing basket (the one I keep in the bedroom, when I’m looking to sew a button on a shirt…not in the sewing room). This is a tool I had left over from eons ago, when I needed to make a bias binding for a home ec project…it will take a bias strip from fabric, and when you put it through the little item, you will get a bias strip – which can then be used to make a tie for a mask. I’ve seen a lot of people using up bias strips from garment construction as well…either will work, but if you have this item in your sewing room, it has possibilities.

can you split elastic

This is a close up of the elastic I used to make an early mask. In this one, I had elastic which was actually a lot wider than the 1/4″ that most patterns call for. This one was 1/2″ – and I sliced it in half and then stabalized it with a zig zag stitch on my machine. We’ll see how this one holds up …this is mine, and it was kind of a let’s see if this will work idea. We’re all MacIver these days.

This last idea is my absolute favorite in terms of how easy it is,and it also satisfies the urge to do some made spring cleaning. This is a T shirt – and hang in with me – it does absolutely work. You take an old T shirt, and slice it with your rotary cutter horizontally into 1″ segments, from the bottom of the shirt up to the armholes. Separate each strand, and then pull. Hard…the knit fabric of the shirt will pull, and curl into itself. Then cut the strand in half twice, and one strand will make both sides of a mask. I personally like the ties better – less stress on the ears, and the wearer can adjust them (or reposition them) throughout the day.

Happy Sewing.

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